Manon Lescaut

by the Abbe Prevost

Chapter IX



'Twas ever thus;--from childhood's hour
  I've seen my fondest hopes decay;--
I never loved a tree or flower,
  But it was sure to fade away;
I never nursed a dear Gazelle,
  To glad me with its dark-blue eye,
But, when it came to know me well,
  And love me, it was sure to die.

MOORE.


"During my life I have remarked that fate has invariably chosen
for the time of its severest visitations, those moments when my
fortune seemed established on the firmest basis.  In the
friendship of M. de T----, and the tender affections of Manon, I
imagined myself so thoroughly happy, that I could not harbour the
slightest apprehension of any new misfortune: there was one,
nevertheless, at this very period impending, which reduced me to
the state in which you beheld me at Passy, and which eventually
brought in its train miseries of so deplorable a nature, that you
will have difficulty in believing the simple recital that follows.

"One evening, when M. de T---- remained to sup with us, we heard
the sound of a carriage stopping at the door of the inn. 
Curiosity tempted us to see who it was that arrived at this hour. 
They told us it was young G---- M----, the son of our most
vindictive enemy, of that debauched old sinner who had
incarcerated me in St. Lazare, and Manon in the Hospital.  His
name made the blood mount to my cheeks.  `It is Providence that
has led him here,' said I to M. de T----, that I may punish him
for the cowardly baseness of his father.  He shall not escape
without our measuring swords at least.'  M. de T----, who knew
him, and was even one of his most intimate friends, tried to
moderate my feelings of anger towards him.  He assured me that he
was a most amiable young man, and so little capable of
countenancing his father's conduct, that I could not be many
minutes in his society without feeling esteem and affection for
him.  After saying many more things in his praise, he begged my
permission to invite him to come and sit in our apartment, as
well as to share the remainder of our supper.  As to the
objection of Manon being exposed by this proceeding to any
danger, he pledged his honour and good faith, that when once the
young man became acquainted with us, we should find in him a most
zealous defender.  After such an assurance, I could offer no
further opposition.

"M. de T---- did not introduce him without delaying a few
moments outside, to let him know who we were.  He certainly came
in with an air that prepossessed us in his favour: he shook hands
with me; we sat down; he admired Manon; he appeared pleased with
me, and with everything that belonged to us; and he ate with an
appetite that did abundant honour to our hospitality.

"When the table was cleared, our conversation became more
serious.  He hung down his head while he spoke of his father's
conduct towards us. He made, on his own part, the most submissive
excuses.  `I say the less upon the subject,' said he, `because I
do not wish to recall a circumstance that fills me with grief and
shame.'  If he were sincere in the beginning, he became much more
so in the end, for the conversation had not lasted half an hour,
when I perceived that Manon's charms had made a visible
impression upon him.  His looks and his manner became by degrees
more tender.  He, however, allowed no expression to escape him;
but, without even the aid of jealousy, I had had experience
enough in love affairs to discern what was passing.

"He remained with us till a late hour in the night, and before
he took his leave, congratulated himself on having made our
acquaintance, and begged permission to call and renew the offer
of his services.  He went off next morning with M. de T----, who
accepted the offer of a seat in his carriage. 

"I felt, as I before said, not the slightest symptom of jealousy
I had a more foolish confidence than ever in Manon's vows.  This
dear creature had so absolute a dominion over my whole soul and
affections, that I could give place to no other sentiment towards
her than that of admiration and love.  Far from considering it a
crime that she should have pleased young G---- M----, I was
gratified by the effect of her charms, and experienced only a
feeling of pride in being loved by a girl whom the whole world
found so enchanting.  I did not even deem it worth while to
mention my suspicions to her.  We were for some days occupied in
arranging her new wardrobe, and in considering whether we might
venture to the theatre without the risk of being recognised.  M.
de T---- came again to see us before the end of the week, and we
consulted him upon this point.  He saw clearly that the way to
please Manon was to say yes: we resolved to go all together that
same evening.

"We were not able, however, to carry this intention into effect;
for, having taken me aside, `I have been in the greatest
embarrassment,' said he to me, `since I saw you, and that is the
cause of my visiting you today.  G---- M---- is in love with your
mistress: he told me so in confidence; I am his intimate friend,
and disposed to do him any service in my power; but I am not less
devoted to you; his designs appeared to me unjustifiable, and I
expressed my disapprobation of them; I should not have divulged
his secret, if he had only intended to use fair and ordinary
means for gaining Manon's affections; but he is aware of her
capricious disposition; he has learned, God knows how, that her
ruling passion is for affluence and pleasure; and, as he is
already in possession of a considerable fortune, he declared his
intention of tempting her at once with a present of great value,
and the offer of an annuity of six thousand francs; if I had in
all other points considered you both in an equal light, I should
have had perhaps to do more violence to my feelings in betraying
him: but a sense of justice as well as of friendship was on your
side, and the more so from having been myself the imprudent,
though unconscious, cause of his passion in introducing him here. 
I feel it my duty therefore to avert any evil consequences from
the mischief I have inadvertently caused.

"I thanked M. de T---- for rendering me so important a service,
and confessed to him, in a like spirit of confidence, that
Manon's disposition was precisely what G---- M---- had imagined;
that is to say, that she was incapable of enduring even the
thought of poverty.  `However,' said I to him, `when it is a mere
question of more or less, I do not believe that she would give me
up for any other person; I can afford to let her want for
nothing, and I have from day to day reason to hope that my
fortune will improve; I only dread one thing,' continued I,
`which is, that G---- M---- may take unfair advantage of the
knowledge he has of our place of residence, and bring us into
trouble by disclosing it.'

"M. de T---- assured me that I might be perfectly easy upon that
head; that G---- M---- might be capable of a silly passion, but
not of an act of baseness; that if he ever could be villain
enough for such a thing, he, de T----, would be the first to
punish him, and by that means make reparation for the mischief he
had occasioned.  `I feel grateful for what you say,' said I, `but
the mischief will have been all done, and the remedy even seems
doubtful; the wisest plan therefore will be to quit Chaillot, and
go to reside elsewhere.'  `Very true,' said M. de T----, `but you
will not be able to do it quickly enough, for G---- M---- is to
be here at noon; he told me so yesterday, and it was that
intelligence that made me come so early this morning to inform
you of his intentions.  You may expect him every moment."

"The urgency of the occasion made me view this matter in a more
serious light.  As it seemed to me impossible to escape the visit
of G---- M----, and perhaps equally so to prevent him from making
his declaration to Manon, I resolved to tell her beforehand of
the designs of my new rival.  I fancied that when she knew I was
aware of the offers that would be made to her, and made probably
in my presence, she would be the more likely to reject them.  I
told M. de T---- of my intention, and he observed that he thought
it a matter of extreme delicacy.  `I admit it,' said I, `but no
man ever had more reason for confiding in a mistress, than I have
for relying on the affection of mine.  The only thing that could
possibly for a moment blind her, is the splendour of his offers;
no doubt she loves her ease, but she loves me also; and in my
present circumstances, I cannot believe that she would abandon me
for the son of the man who had incarcerated her in the Magdalen.' 
In fine, I persisted in my intentions, and taking Manon aside, I
candidly told her what I had learned.

"She thanked me for the good opinion I entertained of her, and
promised to receive G---- M----'s offers in a way that should
prevent a repetition of them.  `No,' said I, `you must not
irritate him by incivility: he has it in his power to injure us. 
But you know well enough, you little rogue,' continued I,
smiling, `how to rid yourself of a disagreeable or useless
lover!'  After a moment's pause she said:  `I have just thought
of an admirable plan, and I certainly have a fertile invention. 
G---- M---- is the son of our bitterest enemy: we must avenge
ourselves on the father, not through the son's person, but
through his purse.  My plan is to listen to his proposals, accept
his presents, and then laugh at him.'

"`The project is not a bad one,' said I to her; `but you
forget, my dear child, that it is precisely the same course that
conducted us formerly to the penitentiary.'  I represented to her
the danger of such an enterprise; she replied, that the only
thing necessary was to take our measures with caution, and she
found an answer to every objection I started.  `Show me the lover
who does not blindly humour every whim of an adored mistress, and
I will then allow that I was wrong in yielding so easily on this
occasion.'  The resolution was taken to make a dupe of G----M----,
and by an unforeseen and unlucky turn of fortune, I became
the victim myself. 

"About eleven o'clock his carriage drove up to the door.  He
made the most complaisant and refined speeches upon the liberty
he had taken of coming to dine with us uninvited.  He was not
surprised at meeting M. de T----, who had the night before
promised to meet him there, and who had, under some pretext or
other, refused a seat in his carriage.  Although there was not a
single person in the party who was not at heart meditating
treachery, we all sat down with an air of mutual confidence and
friendship.  G---- M---- easily found an opportunity of declaring
his sentiments to Manon.  I did not wish to annoy him by
appearing vigilant, so I left the room purposely for several
minutes.

"I perceived on my return that he had not had to encounter any
very discouraging austerity on Manon's part, for he was in the
best possible spirits.  I affected good humour also.  He was
laughing in his mind at my simplicity, while I was not less
diverted by his own.  During the whole evening we were thus
supplying to each other an inexhaustible fund of amusement.  I
contrived, before his departure, to let him have Manon for
another moment to himself; so that he had reason to applaud my
complaisance, as well as the hospitable reception I had given
him.

"As soon as he got into his carriage with M. de T----, Manon ran
towards me with extended arms, and embraced me; laughing all the
while immoderately.  She repeated all his speeches and proposals,
without altering a word.  This was the substance:  He of course
adored her; and wished to share with her a large fortune of which
he was already in possession, without counting what he was to
inherit at his father's death.  She should be sole mistress of
his heart and fortune; and as an immediate token of his
liberality, he was ready at once to supply her with an equipage,
a furnished house, a lady's maid, three footmen, and a man-cook.

"`There is indeed a son,' said I, `very different from his father!
But tell me truly, now, does not such an offer tempt you?'
`Me!' she replied, adapting to the idea two verses from Racine--


Moi! vous me soupconnez de cette perfidie?              
Moi! je pourrais souffrir un visage odieux,
Qui rappelle toujours l'Hopital a mes yeux?


`No I' replied I, continuing the parody--


J'aurais peine a penser que l'Hopital, madame,           
Fut un trait dont l'amour l'eut grave dans votre ame.


`But it assuredly is a temptation--a furnished house, a lady's
maid, a cook, a carriage, and three servants--gallantry can offer
but few more seductive temptations.'

"She protested that her heart was entirely mine, and that it was
for the future only open to the impressions I chose to make upon
it.  `I look upon his promises,' said she, `as an instrument for
revenge, rather than as a mark of love.'  I asked her if she
thought of accepting the hotel and the carriage.  She replied
that his money was all she wanted.

The difficulty was, how to obtain the one without the other; we
resolved to wait for a detailed explanation of the whole project
in a letter which G---- M---- promised to write to her, and which
in fact she received next morning by a servant out of livery,
who, very cleverly, contrived an opportunity of speaking to her
alone.

She told him to wait for an answer, and immediately brought the
letter to me: we opened it together.

"Passing over the usual commonplace expressions of tenderness,
it gave a particular detail of my rival's promises.  There were
no limits to the expense.  He engaged to pay her down ten
thousand francs on her taking possession of the hotel, and to
supply her expenditure in such a way as that she should never
have less than that sum at her command.  The appointed day for
her entering into possession was close at hand.  He only required
two days for all his preparations, and he mentioned the name of
the street and the hotel, where he promised to be in waiting for
her in the afternoon of the second day, if she could manage to
escape my vigilance.  That was the only point upon which he
begged of her to relieve his uneasiness; he seemed to be quite
satisfied upon every other: but he added that, if she apprehended
any difficulty in escaping from me, he could find sure means for
facilitating her flight.

"G---- M---- the younger was more cunning than the old
gentleman.  He wanted to secure his prey before he counted out
the cash.  We considered what course Manon should adopt.  I made
another effort to induce her to give up the scheme, and strongly
represented all its dangers; nothing, however, could shake her
determination.

"Her answer to G---- M---- was brief, merely assuring him that
she could be, without the least difficulty, in Paris on the
appointed day and that he might expect her with certainty.

"We then resolved, that I should instantly hire lodgings in some
village on the other side of Paris, and that I should take our
luggage with me; that in the afternoon of the following day,
which was the time appointed, she should go to Paris; that, after
receiving G---- M----'s presents, she should earnestly entreat
him to take her to the theatre; that she should carry with her as
large a portion of the money as she could, and charge my servant
with the remainder, for it was agreed that he was to accompany
her.  He was the man who had rescued her from the Magdalen, and
he was devotedly attached to us.  I was to be with a
hackney-coach at the end of the street of St. Andre-des-arcs, and
to leave it there about seven o'clock, while I stole, under cover
of the twilight, to the door of the theatre.  Manon promised to
make some excuse for quitting her box for a moment, when she
would come down and join me.  The rest could be easily done.  We
were then to return to my hackney-coach, and quit Paris by the
Faubourg St. Antoine, which was the road to our new residence.

"This plan, extravagant as it was, appeared to us satisfactorily
arranged.  But our greatest folly was in imagining that, succeed
as we might in its execution, it would be possible for us to
escape the consequences.  Nevertheless, we exposed ourselves to
all risk with the blindest confidence.  Manon took her departure
with Marcel--so was the servant called.  I could not help feeling
a pang as she took leave of me.  `Manon,' said I, `do not deceive
me; will you be faithful to me?'  She complained, in the
tenderest tone, of my want of confidence, and renewed all her
protestations of eternal love.

"She was to be in Paris at three o'clock.  I went some time
after.  I spent the remainder of the afternoon moping in the Cafe
de Fere, near the Pont St. Michel.  I remained there till
nightfall.  I then hired a hackney-coach, which I placed,
according to our plan, at the end of the street of St.
Andre-des-arcs, and went on foot to the door of the theatre.  I
was surprised at not seeing Marcel, who was to have been there
waiting for me.  I waited patiently for a full hour, standing
among a crowd of lackeys, and gazing at every person that passed. 
At length, seven o'clock having struck, without my being able to
discover anything or any person connected with our project, I
procured a pit ticket, in order to ascertain if Manon and G----
M---- were in the boxes.  Neither one nor the other could I find. 
I returned to the door, where I again stopped for a quarter of an
hour, in an agony of impatience and uneasiness.  No person
appeared, and I went back to the coach, without knowing what to
conjecture.  The coachman, seeing me, advanced a few paces
towards me, and said, with a mysterious air, that a very handsome
young person had been waiting more than an hour for me in the
coach; that she described me so exactly that he could not be
mistaken, and having learned that I intended to return, she said
she would enter the coach and wait with patience.

"`I felt confident that it was Manon.  I approached.  I beheld
a very pretty face, certainly, but alas, not hers.  The lady
asked, in a voice that I had never before heard, whether she had
the honour of speaking to the Chevalier des Grieux?  I answered,
`That is my name.'  `I have a letter for you,' said she, `which
will tell you what has brought me here, and by what means I
learned your name.'  I begged she would allow me a few moments to
read it in an adjoining cafe.  She proposed to follow me, and
advised me to ask for a private room, to which I consented.  `Who
is the writer of this letter?' I enquired.  She referred me to
the letter itself.

"I recognised Manon's hand.  This is nearly the substance of the
letter:  G---- M---- had received her with a politeness and
magnificence beyond anything she had previously conceived.  He
had loaded her with the most gorgeous presents.  She had the
prospect of almost imperial splendour.  She assured me, however,
that she could not forget me amidst all this magnificence; but
that, not being able to prevail on G---- M---- to take her that
evening to the play, she was obliged to defer the pleasure of
seeing me; and that, as a slight consolation for the
disappointment which she feared this might cause me, she had
found a messenger in one of the loveliest girls in all Paris. 
She signed herself, `Your loving and constant, MANON LESCAUT.'

"There was something so cruel and so insulting in the letter,
that, what between indignation and grief, I resolutely determined
to forget eternally my ungrateful and perjured mistress.  I
looked at the young woman who stood before me: she was
exceedingly pretty, and I could have wished that she had been
sufficiently so to render me inconstant in my turn.  But there
were wanting those lovely and languishing eyes, that divine
gracefulness, that exquisite complexion, in fine, those
innumerable charms which nature had so profusely lavished upon
the perfidious Manon.  `No, no,' said I, turning away from her;
`the ungrateful wretch who sent you knew in her heart that she
was sending you on a useless errand.  Return to her; and tell her
from me, to triumph in her crime, and enjoy it, if she can,
without remorse.  I abandon her in despair, and, at the same
time, renounce all women, who, without her fascination, are no
doubt her equals in baseness and infidelity.'

"I was then on the point of going away, determined never to
bestow another thought on Manon: the mortal jealousy that was
racking my heart lay concealed under a dark and sullen
melancholy, and I fancied, because I felt none of those violent
emotions which I had experienced upon former occasions, that I
had shaken off my thraldom.  Alas! I was even at that moment
infinitely more the dupe of love, than of, G---- M---- and Manon.

"The girl who had brought the letter, seeing me about to depart,
asked me what I wished her to say to M. G---- M----, and to the
lady who was with him?  At this question, I stepped back again
into the room, and by one of those unaccountable transitions that
are only known to the victims of violent passion, I passed in an
instant from the state of subdued tranquillity which I have just
described, into an ungovernable fury `Away!' said I to her, `tell
the traitor G---- M----and his abandoned mistress the state of
despair into which your accursed mission has cast me; but warn
them that it shall not be long a source of amusement to them, and
that my own hands shall be warmed with the heart's blood of
both!'  I sank back upon a chair; my hat fell on one side, and my
cane upon the other: torrents of bitter tears rolled down my
cheeks.  The paroxysm of rage changed into a profound and silent
grief: I did nothing but weep and sigh.  `Approach, my child,
approach,' said I to the young girl; `approach, since it is you
they have sent to bring me comfort; tell me whether you have any
balm to administer for the pangs of despair and rage--any
argument to offer against the crime of self-destruction, which I
have resolved upon, after ridding the world of two perfidious
monsters.  Yes, approach,' continued I, perceiving that she
advanced with timid and doubtful steps; `come and dry my sorrows;
come and restore peace to my mind; come and tell me that at least
you love me: you are handsome--I may perhaps love you in return.' 
The poor child, who was only sixteen or seventeen years of age,
and who appeared more modest than girls of her class generally
are, was thunderstruck at this unusual scene.  She however gently
approached to caress me, when with uplifted hands I rudely
repulsed her.  `What do you wish with me?' exclaimed I to her. 
`Ah! you are a woman, and of a sex I abhor, and can no longer
tolerate; the very gentleness of your look threatens me with some
new treason.  Go, leave me here alone!'  She made me a curtsy
without uttering a word, and turned to go out.  I called to her
to stop:  `Tell me at least,' said I, `wherefore-- how--with what
design they sent you here? how did you discover my name, or the
place where you could find me?'

"She told me that she had long known M. G---- M----; that he had
sent for her that evening about five o'clock; and that, having
followed the servant who had been dispatched to her, she was
shown into a large house, where she found him playing at picquet
with a beautiful young woman; and that they both charged her to
deliver the letter into my hands, after telling her that she
would find me in a hackney-coach at the bottom of the street of
St. Andre.  I asked if they had said nothing more.  She blushed
while she replied, that they had certainly made her believe that
I should be glad of her society.  `They have deceived you too,'
said I, `my poor girl--they have deceived you; you are a woman,
and probably wish for a lover; but you must find one who is rich
and happy, and it is not here you will find him.  Return, return
to M. G---- M----; he possesses everything requisite to make a
man beloved.  He has furnished houses and equipages to bestow,
while I, who have nothing but constancy of love to offer, am
despised for my poverty, and laughed at for my simplicity.'

"I continued in a tone of sorrow or violence, as these feelings
alternately took possession of my mind.  However, by the very
excess of my agitation, I became gradually so subdued as to be
able calmly to reflect upon the situation of affairs.  I compared
this new misfortune with those which I had already experienced of
the same kind, and I could not perceive that there was any more
reason for despair now, than upon former occasions.  I knew
Manon: why then distress myself on account of a calamity which I
could not but have plainly foreseen?  Why not rather think of
seeking a remedy? there was yet time; I at least ought not to
spare my own exertions, if I wished to avoid the bitter reproach
of having contributed, by my own indolence, to my misery.  I
thereupon set about considering every means of raising a gleam of
hope.

"To attempt to take her by main force from the hands of
G----M---- was too desperate a project, calculated only to ruin
me, and without the slightest probability of succeeding.  But it
seemed to me that if I could ensure a moment's interview with
her, I could not fail to regain my influence over her affections. 
I so well knew how to excite her sensibilities!  I was so
confident of her love for me!  The very whim even of sending me a
pretty woman by way of consoling me, I would stake my existence,
was her idea, and that it was the suggestion of her own sincere
sympathy for my sufferings.

"I resolved to exert every nerve to procure an interview.  After
a multitude of plans which I canvassed one after another, I fixed
upon the following:  M. de T---- had shown so much sincerity in
the services he had rendered me, that I could not entertain a
doubt of his zeal and good faith.  I proposed to call upon him at
once, and make him send for G---- M----, under pretence of some
important business.  Half an hour would suffice to enable me to
see Manon.  I thought it would not be difficult to get introduced
into her apartment during G---- M----'s absence.

"This determination pacified me, and I gave a liberal present to
the girl, who was still with me; and in order to prevent her from
returning to those who had sent her, I took down her address, and
half promised to call upon her at a later hour.  I then got into
the hackney-coach, and drove quickly to M. de T----'s.  I was
fortunate enough to find him at home.  I had been apprehensive
upon this point as I went along.  A single sentence put him in
possession of the whole case, as well of my sufferings, as of the
friendly service I had come to supplicate at his hands.

"He was so astonished to learn that G---- M---- had been able to
seduce Manon from me, that, not being aware that I had myself
lent a hand to my own misfortune, he generously offered to
assemble his friends, and evoke their aid for the deliverance of
my mistress.  I told him that such a proceeding might by its
publicity be attended with danger to Manon and to me.  `Let us
risk our lives,' said I, `only as a last resource.  My plan is of
a more peaceful nature, and promising at least equal success.' 
He entered without a murmur into all that I proposed; so again
stating that all I required was, that he should send for G----
M----, and contrive to keep him an hour or two from home, we at
once set about our operations.

"We first of all considered what expedient we could make use of
for keeping him out so long a time.  I proposed that he should
write a note dated from a cafe, begging of him to come there as
soon as possible upon an affair of too urgent importance to admit
of delay.  `I will watch,' added I, `the moment he quits the
house, and introduce myself without any difficulty, being only
known to Manon, and my servant Marcel.  You can at the same time
tell G----  M----, that the important affair upon which you
wished to see him was the immediate want of a sum of money; that
you had just emptied your purse at play, and that you had played
on, with continued bad luck, upon credit.  He will require some
time to take you to his father's house, where he keeps his money,
and I shall have quite sufficient for the execution of my plan.'

"M. de T---- minutely adhered to these directions.  I left him
in a cafe, where he at once wrote his letter.  I took my station
close by Manon's house.  I saw de T----'s messenger arrive, and
G---- M---- come out the next moment, followed by a servant. 
Allowing him barely time to get out of the street, I advanced to
my deceiver's door, and notwithstanding the anger I felt, I
knocked with as much respect as at the portal of a church. 
Fortunately it was Marcel who opened for me.  Although I had
nothing to apprehend from the other servants, I asked him in a
low voice if he could conduct me unseen into the room in which
Manon was.  He said that was easily done, by merely ascending the
great staircase.  `Come then at once,' said I to him, `and
endeavour to prevent anyone from coming up while I am there.'  I
reached the apartment without any difficulty.

"Manon was reading.  I had there an opportunity of admiring the
singular character of this girl.  Instead of being nervous or
alarmed at my appearance, she scarcely betrayed a symptom of
surprise, which few persons, however indifferent, could restrain,
on seeing one whom they imagined to be far distant.  `Ah! it is
you, my dear love,' said she, approaching to embrace me with her
usual tenderness. `Good heavens, how venturesome and foolhardy
you are!  Who could have expected to see you in this place!' 
Instead of embracing her in return, I repulsed her with
indignation, and retreated two or three paces from her.  This
evidently disconcerted her.  She remained immovable, and fixed
her eyes on me, while she changed colour.

"I was in reality so delighted to behold her once more, that,
with so much real cause for anger, I could hardly bring my lips
to upbraid her.  My heart, however, felt the cruel outrage she
had inflicted upon me. I endeavoured to revive the recollection
of it in my own mind, in order to excite my feelings, and put on
a look of stern indignation.  I remained silent for a few
moments, when I remarked that she observed my agitation, and
trembled: apparently the effect of her fears.

"I could not longer endure this spectacle. `Ah!  Manon,' said I
to her in the mildest tone, `faithless and perjured Manon!  How
am I to complain of your conduct?  I see you pale and trembling,
and I am still so much alive to your slightest sufferings, that I
am unwilling to add to them by my reproaches.  But, Manon, I tell
you that my heart is pierced with sorrow at your treatment of
me--treatment that is seldom inflicted but with the purpose of
destroying one's life.  This is the third time, Manon; I have
kept a correct account; it is impossible to forget that.  It is
now for you to consider what course you will adopt; for my
afflicted heart is no longer capable of sustaining such shocks. 
I know and feel that it must give way, and it is at this moment
ready to burst with grief.  I can say no more,' added I, throwing
myself into a chair; `I have hardly strength to speak, or to
support myself.'

"She made me no reply; but when I was seated, she sank down upon
her knees, and rested her head upon my lap, covering her face
with her hands.  I perceived in a moment that she was shedding
floods of tears.  Heavens! with what conflicting sensations was I
at that instant agitated!  `Ah! Manon, Manon,' said I, sighing,
`it is too late to give me tears after the death-blow you have
inflicted.  You affect a sorrow which you cannot feel.  The
greatest of your misfortunes is no doubt my presence, which has
been always an obstacle to your happiness.  Open your eyes; look
up and see who it is that is here; you will not throw away tears
of tenderness upon an unhappy wretch whom you have betrayed and
abandoned.' 

"She kissed my hands without changing her position.  `Inconstant
Manon,' said I again, `ungrateful and faithless girl, where now
are all your promises and your vows?  Capricious and cruel that
you are! what has now become of the love that you protested for
me this very day?  Just Heavens,' added I, `is it thus you permit
a traitor to mock you, after having called you so solemnly to
witness her vows!  Recompense and reward then are for the
perjured!  Despair and neglect are the lot of fidelity and
truth!'

"These words conveyed even to my own mind a sentiment so
bitterly severe, that, in spite of myself, some tears escaped
from me.  Manon perceived this by the change in my voice.  She at
length spoke.  `I must have indeed done something most culpable,'
said she, sobbing with grief, `to have excited and annoyed you to
this degree; but, I call Heaven to attest my utter
unconsciousness of crime, and my innocence of all criminal
intention!'

"This speech struck me as so devoid of reason and of truth, that
I could not restrain a lively feeling of anger.  `Horrible
hypocrisy!' cried I; `I see more plainly than ever that you are
dishonest and treacherous.  Now at length I learn your wretched
disposition.  Adieu, base creature,' said I, rising from my seat;
`I would prefer death a thousand times rather than continue to
hold the slightest communication with you.  May Heaven punish me,
if I ever again waste upon you the smallest regard!  Live on with
your new lover--renounce all feelings of honour--detest me--your
love is now a matter to me of utter insignificance!'

"Manon was so terrified by the violence of my anger, that,
remaining on her knees by the chair from which I had just before
risen, breathless and trembling, she fixed her eyes upon me.  I
advanced a little farther towards the door, but, unless I had
lost the last spark of humanity, I could not continue longer
unmoved by such a spectacle.

"So far, indeed, was I from this kind of stoical indifference,
that, rushing at once into the very opposite extreme, I returned,
or rather flew back to her without an instant's reflection.  I
lifted her in my arms; I gave her a thousand tender kisses; I
implored her to pardon my ungovernable temper; I confessed that I
was an absolute brute, and unworthy of being loved by such an
angel.

"I made her sit down, and throwing myself, in my turn, upon my
knees, I conjured her to listen to me in that attitude.  Then I
briefly expressed all that a submissive and impassioned lover
could say most tender and respectful.  I supplicated her pardon. 
She let her arms fall over my neck, as she said that it was she
who stood in need of forgiveness, and begged of me in mercy to
forget all the annoyances she had caused me, and that she began,
with reason, to fear that I should not approve of what she had to
say in her justification.  `Me!' said I interrupting her
impatiently; `I require no justification; I approve of all you
have done.  It is not for me to demand excuses for anything you
do; I am but too happy, too contented, if my dear Manon will only
leave me master of her affections!  But,' continued I,
remembering that it was the crisis of my fate, `may I not, Manon,
all-powerful Manon, you who wield at your pleasure my joys and
sorrows, may I not be permitted, after having conciliated you by
my submission and all the signs of repentance, to speak to you
now of my misery and distress?  May I now learn from your own
lips what my destiny is to be, and whether you are resolved to
sign my death-warrant, by spending even a single night with my
rival?'

"She considered a moment before she replied.  `My good
chevalier,' said she, resuming the most tranquil tone, `if you
had only at first explained yourself thus distinctly, you would
have spared yourself a world of trouble, and prevented a scene
that has really annoyed me.  Since your distress is the result of
jealousy, I could at first have cured that by offering to
accompany you where you pleased.  But I imagined it was caused by
the letter which I was obliged to write in the presence of G----
M----, and of the girl whom we sent with it.  I thought you might
have construed that letter into a mockery; and have fancied that,
by sending such a messenger, I meant to announce my abandonment
of you for the sake of G---- M----.  It was this idea that at
once overwhelmed me with grief; for, innocent as I knew myself to
be, I could not but allow that appearances were against me. 
However,' continued she, `I will leave you to judge of my
conduct, after I shall have explained the whole truth.'

"She then told me all that had occurred to her after joining
G---- M----, whom she found punctually awaiting her arrival.  He
had in fact received her in the most princely style.  He showed
her through all the apartments, which were fitted up in the
neatest and most correct taste.  He had counted out to her in her
boudoir ten thousand francs, as well as a quantity of jewels,
amongst which were the identical pearl necklace and bracelets
which she had once before received as a present from his father. 
He then led her into a splendid room, which she had not before
seen, and in which an exquisite collation was served; she was
waited upon by the new servants, whom he had hired purposely for
her, and whom he now desired to consider themselves as
exclusively her attendants; the carriage and the horses were
afterwards paraded, and he then proposed a game of cards, until
supper should be announced.

"`I acknowledge,' continued Manon, `that I was dazzled by all
this magnificence.  It struck me that it would be madness to
sacrifice at once so many good things for the mere sake of
carrying off the money and the jewels already in my possession;
that it was a certain fortune made for both you and me, and that
we might pass the remainder of our lives most agreeably and
comfortably at the expense of G---- M----.

"`Instead of proposing the theatre, I thought it more prudent
to sound his feelings with regard to you, in order to ascertain
what facilities we should have for meeting in future, on the
supposition that I could carry my project into effect.  I found
him of a most tractable disposition.  He asked me how I felt
towards you, and if I had not experienced some compunction at
quitting you.  I told him that you were so truly amiable, and had
ever treated me with such undeviating kindness, that it was
impossible I could hate you.  He admitted that you were a man of
merit, and expressed an ardent desire to gain your friendship.

"`He was anxious to know how I thought you would take my
elopement, particularly when you should learn that I was in his
hands.  I answered, that our love was of such long standing as to
have had time to moderate a little; that, besides, you were not
in very easy circumstances, and would probably not consider my
departure as any severe misfortune, inasmuch as it would relieve
you from a burden of no very insignificant nature.  I added that,
being perfectly convinced you would take the whole matter
rationally, I had not hesitated to tell you that I had some
business in Paris; but you had at once consented, and that having
accompanied me yourself, you did not seem very uneasy when we
separated.

"`If I thought,' said he to me, 'that he could bring himself to
live on good terms with me, I should be too happy to make him a
tender of my services and attentions.'  I assured him that, from
what I knew of your disposition, I had no doubt you would
acknowledge his kindness in a congenial spirit: especially, I
added, if he could assist you in your affairs, which had become
embarrassed since your disagreement with your family.  He
interrupted me by declaring, that he would gladly render you any
service in his power, and that if you were disposed to form a new
attachment, he would introduce you to an extremely pretty woman,
whom he had just given up for me.

"`I approved of all he said,' she added, `for fear of exciting
any suspicions; and being more and more satisfied of the
feasibility of my scheme, I only longed for an opportunity of
letting you into it, lest you should be alarmed at my not keeping
my appointment.  With this view I suggested the idea of sending
this young lady to you, in order to have an opportunity of
writing; I was obliged to have recourse to this plan, because I
could not see a chance of his leaving me to myself for a moment.'

"`He was greatly amused with my proposition; he called his
valet, and asking him whether he could immediately find his late
mistress, he dispatched him at once in search of her.  He
imagined that she would have to go to Chaillot to meet you, but I
told him that, when we parted, I promised to meet you again at
the theatre, or that, if anything should prevent me from going
there, you were to wait for me in a coach at the, end of the
street of St. Andre; that consequently it would be best to send
your new love there, if it were only to save you from the misery
of suspense during the whole night.  I said it would be also
necessary to write you a line of explanation, without which you
would probably be puzzled by the whole transaction.  He
consented; but I was obliged to write in his presence; and I took
especial care not to explain matters too palpably in my letter. 

"`This is the history,' said Manon, `of the entire affair.  I
conceal nothing from you, of either my conduct or my intentions. 
The girl arrived; I thought her handsome; and as I doubted not
that you would be mortified by my absence, I did most sincerely
hope that she would be able to dissipate something of your ennui:
for it is the fidelity of the heart alone that I value.  I should
have been too delighted to have sent Marcel, but I could not for
a single instant find an opportunity of telling him what I wished
to communicate to you.'  She finished her story by describing the
embarrassment into which M. de T----'s letter had thrown G----
M----; `he hesitated,' said she, `about leaving, and assured me
that he should not be long absent; and it is on this account that
I am uneasy at seeing you here, and that I betrayed, at your
appearance, some slight feeling of surprise.'

"I listened to her with great patience.  There were certainly
parts of her recital sufficiently cruel and mortifying; for the
intention, at least, of the infidelity was so obvious, that she
had not even taken the trouble to disguise it.  She could never
have imagined that G---- M---- meant to venerate her as a vestal. 
She must therefore clearly have made up her mind to pass at least
one night with him.  What an avowal for a lover's ears!  However,
I considered myself as partly the cause of her guilt, by having
been the first to let her know G---- M----'s sentiments towards
her, and by the silly readiness with which I entered into this
rash project.  Besides, by a natural bent of my mind, peculiar I
believe to myself, I was duped by the ingenuousness of her
story--by that open and winning manner with which she related
even the circumstances most calculated to annoy me.  `There is
nothing of wanton vice,' said I to myself, `in her
transgressions; she is volatile and imprudent, but she is sincere
and affectionate.'  My love alone rendered me blind to all her
faults.  I was enchanted at the prospect of rescuing her that
very night from my rival.  I said to her:  `With whom do you mean
to pass the night?'  She was evidently disconcerted by the
question, and answered me in an embarrassed manner with BUTS and
IFS.

"I felt for her, and interrupted her by saying that I at once
expected her to accompany me.

"`Nothing can give me more pleasure,' said she; `but you don't
approve then of my project?'

"`Is it not enough,' replied I, `that I approve of all that you
have, up to this moment, done?'

"`What,' said she, `are we not even to take the ten thousand
francs with us?  Why, he gave me the money; it is mine.'

"I advised her to leave everything, and let us think only of
escaping for although I had been hardly half an hour with her, I
began to dread the return of G---- M----.  However, she so
earnestly urged me to consent to our going out with something in
our pockets, that I thought myself bound to make her, on my part,
some concession, in return for all she yielded to me.

"While we were getting ready for our departure, I heard someone
knock at the street door.  I felt convinced that it must be G----
M----; and in the heat of the moment, I told Manon, that as sure
as he appeared I would take his life.  In truth, I felt that I
was not sufficiently recovered from my late excitement to be able
to restrain my fury if I met him.  Marcel put an end to my
uneasiness, by handing me a letter which he had received for me
at the door; it was from M. de T----.

"He told me that, as G---- M---- had gone to his father's house
for the money which he wanted, he had taken advantage of his
absence to communicate to me an amusing idea that had just come
into his head; that it appeared to him, I could not possibly take
a more agreeable revenge upon my rival, than by eating his
supper, and spending the night in the very bed which he had hoped
to share with my mistress; all this seemed to him easy enough, if
I could only find two or three men upon whom I could depend, of
courage sufficient to stop him in the street, and detain him in
custody until next morning; that he would undertake to keep him
occupied for another hour at least, under some pretext, which he
could devise before G---- M----'s return.

"I showed the note to Manon; I told her at the same time of the
manner in which I had procured the interview with her.  My
scheme, as well as the new one of M. de T----'s, delighted her:
we laughed heartily at it for some minutes; but when I treated it
as a mere joke, I was surprised at her insisting seriously upon
it, as a thing perfectly practicable, and too delightful to be
neglected.  In vain I enquired where she thought I could possibly
find, on a sudden, men fit for such an adventure? and on whom I
could rely for keeping G---- M---- in strict custody?  She said
that I should at least try, as M. de T---- ensured us yet a full
hour; and as to my other objections, she said that I was playing
the tyrant, and did not show the slightest indulgence to her
fancies.  She said that it was impossible there could be a more
enchanting project.  `You will have his place at supper; you will
sleep in his bed; and tomorrow, as early as you like, you can
walk off with both his mistress and his money.  You may thus, at
one blow, be amply revenged upon father and son.'

"I yielded to her entreaties, in spite of the secret misgivings
of my own mind, which seemed to forebode the unhappy catastrophe
that afterwards befell me.  I went out with the intention of
asking two or three guardsmen, with whom Lescaut had made me
acquainted, to undertake the arrest of G---- M----.  I found only
one of them at home, but he was a fellow ripe for any adventure;
and he no sooner heard our plan, than he assured me of certain
success: all he required were six pistoles, to reward the three
private soldiers whom he determined to employ in the business.  I
begged of him to lose no time.  He got them together in less than
a quarter of in hour.  I waited at his lodgings till he returned
with them, and then conducted him to the corner of a street
through which I knew G----  M---- must pass an going back to
Manon's house.  I requested him not to treat G---- M---- roughly,
but to keep him confined, and so strictly watched, until seven
o'clock next morning, that I might be free from all apprehension
of his escape.  He told me his intention was to bring him a
prisoner to his own room, and make him undress and sleep in his
bed, while he and his gallant comrades should spend the night in
drinking and playing.

"I remained with them until we saw G---- M---- returning
homewards; and I then withdrew a few steps into a dark recess in
the street, to enjoy so entertaining and extraordinary a scene. 
The officer challenged him with a pistol to his breast, and then
told him, in a civil tone, that he did not want either his money
or his life; but that if he hesitated to follow him, or if he
gave the slightest alarm, he would blow his brains out.  G----
M----, seeing that his assailant was supported by three soldiers,
and perhaps not uninfluenced by a dread of the pistol, yielded
without further resistance.  I saw him led away like a lamb.

 

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